Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Craft Beer and the Craft of Composing- Joey Crane, Composer and Beer Guy

By Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins 
and Ivana Truong

In the constantly expanding world of craft beer, it's hard to know what to try, what to avoid, and what is not to your taste. To help guide you, wine has sommeliers, beer has cicerones. A cicerone is a "beer person"  that actually knows what they're talking about. For me (Andy, Ivana's too young to drink), that person is Joey Crane. I first met him at The Ale Jail on St. Clair Ave. in St. Paul. I was perusing the many craft beers and Joey introduced himself as the beer person there. I went away from that first encounter with several beers to try. Now, several years later, I can proclaim without any hint of beer snobbery that "I really like Belgian Ales with secondary in bottle fermentation." And for most cicerones, that's about as far as I'd get to know the person.
Composer Joey Crane

Monday, July 30, 2018

Amati Cellos

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins and
Ivana Truong
Fig. 1. Andrea Amati (Italian, ca. 1505รข€“1578). Violoncello, "The King" (detail), mid-16th century. National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota, Witten-Rawlins Collection, 1984 (NMM 3351)
'The King' made by Andrea Amati, the oldest surviving cello

image from The Met
In an upcoming blog post, we'll be reviewing a book titled BC Before Cremona which traces the lineages of violin family instruments leading up to the early Cremonese makers in the mid 1500s. But somewhere around the 1520s to 1530s- POOF- violins, violas, and cellos started to be made. Who was the first? There are many names tossed around, but Andrea Amati was certainly an early maker of violin family instruments.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Stradivarius vs. Guarnerius Cellos

By Andy Fein, Luthier, Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong

Recently, cellist Pablo Ferrandez had the incredible opportunity to compare two great cellos- the 'Aylesford' Stradivarius cello of 1696 and a Joseph filius Andrea Guarnerius cello made in 1694. As you can tell, this made Pablo Ferrandez very happy. Very, very happy!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Women Composers That You Should Hear!

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong

Most of the Western Classical Music world has been dominated for centuries by male composers.
Or, at least we think it has. Many great women composers have lived and died, and many are actively writing beautiful music today. Who are they? Where are they? How come we don't know more about them?  Well, let's start with classical concert programmers. A recent article in The Guardian by Mark Brown pointed out that about 95% of all the classical music on concert programs through 2019 was by male composers. Is it possible that male composers wrote 95% of all the classical music that's worth listening to or performing? Of course not! 

Fanny Mendelssohn, 'Women in European History'

Friday, June 22, 2018

'Playing In', 'Breaking In' a New Instrument. Is it a Thing?

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong

Our own Patrizio Stradivari model violin being "played in" with Classical MPR

You often hear a string player talk about how their violin, viola, or cello has really "opened up" in the weeks, months, or years since they first bought it. A statement like that is so common, we assume it's true. But is it? What actually happens when an instrument is "played in"? Does it really "open up"? Is there really a "breaking in" period?
The absolute, categorical, definitive answer to that is----